SEGMENTATION STRATEGIES FOR IMPROVED ENROLLMENT AND RETENTION LEVELS
– A CASE STUDY IN HIGHER ED MARKETING
STUDENT ATTRITION AND THE REVOLVING DOOR SYNDROME
Extremely high attrition rates underscore the myriad challenges today’s colleges and universities face with regard to long term growth and sustainability. Consider the following statistics as reported by (Schertzer and Schertzer, 2004; Brawer, 1999; and Cravatta, 1997):
“Approximately 50 percent of the freshmen enrolled in colleges and universities drop out before completing their programs; nearly one-third of college freshman do not return after the first year.”
Under intense scrutiny, theories abound for low retention rates, high dropout and transfer rates. “Recurrent themes of those leaving voluntarily are: uncertainty both about what to expect from college and its reward, transition/adjustment problems, financial difficulties and academic under-preparation.” (Kalsner, 1991 as cited in Schertzer & Schertzer, 2004) Other theories for low retention include “financial hardships, lack of maturity, poor academic records, ineffective study skills, low institutional commitment and poor school support services.” (Drew, 1990 as cited in Schertzer & Schertzer, 2004)
If marketing and recruitment dollars are continuously being re-invested to replace an institution’s customer base, then what is the opportunity cost lost due to dollars not invested in other critical areas of service quality? The correlation of service quality for students to successful student outcomes has been often cited in the literature.
This revolving door syndrome poses serious short- and long-term consequences. High turnover translates into high costs, lost time and increased effort to deliver a new influx of recruits to supplant the steady stream of outgoing students.
CUSTOMER RETENTION – PARALLELS OF BUSINESS AND HIGHER EDUCATION
Much like business institutions, higher education institutions are expected to meet...